Today, most women in the childbearing period use the internet both for information and as an important source of communication [1–3]. Access to information via the internet can help to prepare pregnant women before meetings and communication with health professionals, and also to influence decision making . Multiple sources of web support for individuals and defined patient groups can improve health and well-being [5, 6]. However, many health professionals do not seem to use the possibility of incorporating internet information in the care of patients in general  including pregnant women . This may be due to lacking confidence in reliable sources . Griffiths et al.  recommend careful consideration of the reasons for choosing the internet as a venue for interventions, by raising questions about its unique contribution to improving people's health.
Needs and expectations of the internet as a source of knowledge and communication have, as far as we know, not yet been explored in childbearing women with diabetes. This is a high-risk group with respect to maternal, fetal and neonatal outcomes [10, 11]. Better glycemic control during pregnancy has been shown to greatly improve outcomes, as a result of intensive medical control and support from health care professionals, and of women's careful daily routines including frequent blood glucose measurement and insulin adjustment . The struggle to obtain optimal glycemic control is demanding for these women, as they are experiencing unfamiliar body responses, stress, worry, insecurity, and unpredictability [13–16]. After childbirth, the mothers are faced with new challenges; including fluctuating blood glucose in both the mother and the newborn at the same time that breastfeeding should be established. Irrespective of different organizational routines in Sweden, there is often a gap in the continuity of care after childbirth, and the mothers often feel alone in a vulnerable situation . Women with diabetes have specific needs during the whole childbearing period [14, 16–19], not only for intensive medical consultation, but for social support from health care professionals, relatives, and their peers -- women facing a similar situation . Social support contributes to well-being, and is an interactive process of vital importance in everyday life . Women with diabetes can feel more dependent on their partners when they become mothers . Complementary social support may decrease this dependency and lessen the burden for relatives in everyday life. Facilitating communities with others can provide an important part of social support, and assist in creating stability while managing the transition to motherhood .
As part of a larger project aiming to develop a web-based support system for women with type 1 diabetes during pregnancy and early motherhood, the objective of this study was to explore use and needs of web-based information and communication in childbearing women with type 1 diabetes. A presupposition for the project was that a web-based support system might be able to bridge the existing gap between different health care professionals providing care during the childbearing period, and especially during early motherhood. According to Griffiths et al. , this kind of project can also provide increased convenience for users in terms of time, mobility, and geography, and promote equal access to quality-assured and evidence-based information.
As noted by Dillon , when designing what is intended to be a highly usable web-based support system, a participatory approach can empower users by involving them in the design and artefacts [23, 24]. Furthermore, the development of technology support and self-monitoring must take into consideration the users' different degrees of use and experience, as well as how the technology is assimilated within its actual context of use . To that end, studies exploring needs for support can form the basis for development projects . The theoretical basis for the project lies in the theory of social support, developed by House et al. , in which social support is assumed to be an interactive process involving four parts: emotional concern, instrumental aid, information and appraisal.
The objective of this study was to explore internet use, needs, and expectations regarding web-based information and communication in childbearing women with type 1 diabetes.